HERAT (AFGHANISTAN): Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated a $290-million hydroelectric dam built with Indian aid in the Afghan city of Herat on Saturday, the latest reflection of the strengthening ties between the two countries.
India has provided more than $2 billion as aid to Afghanistan since the Taliban regime was toppled in 2001. The inauguration of the Salma dam, also known as the Afghanistan-India friendship dam, came just five months after Modi inaugurated the new $90-million Afghan parliament built by India in Kabul.
Modi and Ghani jointly pressed a button to start the dam’s three turbines as engineers released balloons in celebration. “With the inauguration of the ‘AfghanistanIndia friendship dam’, the first such large Indian-funded project is completed,” Ghani said. “We hope this will lead to the development of many such projects.”
Modi said, “Afghans and Indians dreamt of this project in the 1970s. Today, the brave Afghan people are sending a message that the forces of destruction, death, denial and domination shall not prevail.”
Ties between India and Afghanistan have grown stronger at a time when Kabul has indicated it will not depend on Islamabad for bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. Following a devastating suicide attack in Kabul in April that killed 64 people, Ghani called on Pakistan to take military action against the Taliban.
Modi said in his speech that India’s investment in Chabahar “will give Afghanistan a new route to the world and a new path to prosperity”. He added, “The fruits of our friendship are not confined to Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar and Herat. They will never be. Our cooperation will extend to every part of Afghanistan.”
Modi also thanked Afghans for putting themselves “in the line of fire” to protect Indian interests in the face of attacks.
PM GETS AFGHANISTAN’S TOP CIVILIAN HONOUR
PM Narendra Modi was conferred the Amir Amanullah Khan Award, the country’s highest civilian honour, by Ghani after the inauguration of the dam.